The Atlas Corps fellowship has awarded me the opportunity to explore my profession in an international scope and pursue the career of my dreams: a career in the world of international laws & public policy.
This experience has been a vehicle to serve abroad making an impact on a social and political change.
Serving as a Policy Advisor has strengthened my skills in advocacy, networking, connecting with government officials and civil society members, legislation advisory, public speaking, and research, it has definitely taken my career to the next level!
One of the priorities of my policy agenda is working to address is Financial Inclusion for immigrants in the Bay Area.
A fellow’s discovery on policy
I have been serving here for about 9 months now, and during this time I discovered that many immigrants living here, despite having a strong desire to build family and community wealth, face unique barriers to financial security and economic opportunity.
My Host Organization “The Unity Council”, does an amazing job at providing opportunities for the immigrant community – no matter their background, language, or immigration status. Thousands of people rely on The Unity Council to find better jobs, get educated, stay housed. They connected me with the California Reinvestment Coalition, they promote economic equity, community wealth-building, and financial security for immigrants, and they just recently nominated me as their co-chair.
As an international fellow serving in the Policy & advocacy world in California I want to share a few findings on my experience advocating for economic growth for immigrants:
In an era with heightened xenophobia and a complicated political environment, we are observing deteriorating human rights conditions and witnessing policies being carried out against immigrant communities, preventing people from accessing basic resources.
In the Bay Area and many other places around the world, we are witnessing major barriers for all immigrants in getting access to tools that will improve their state. These include access to healthcare, financial aid, and unemployment insurance.
The limited availability of banking financial tools and products make undocumented people more susceptible to scams and fraud from payday lenders. This, in turn, hurts their ability to acquire and build household wealth, gain financial stability, and eventually achieve prosperity.
- As recently nominated co-chair of the California Reinvestment Coalition’s Here to Stay campaign, I believe that immigrants play a crucial role in boosting our economy, especially through mom and pop business activity.
- Some of the most creative entrepreneurs were immigrants or sons and daughters of immigrants. In California, immigrants comprise 35 percent of the state workforce, over 33 percent of business owners, and pay over $3 billion in annual state and local taxes.
- Getting access to basic services is a burden today for immigrants. They can’t get good access to basic needs such as healthcare, employment, housing, and social services.
- Undocumented immigrants face additional barriers because they do not qualify for public benefits. Consequently, many become victims of predatory services, wage theft, predatory loans, exploitation at work, homelessness, and abusive practices.
- While immigrants make up large portions of the labor force, they are more likely to face discrimination from financial institutions. Therefore, it’s essential to advocate for equitable opportunities and resources.
- Current opportunities for economic growth for immigrants in the Bay Area: Expansion of CalEITC to families who file with Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs), access to safe banking, small business loans, mortgages, accessible retirement systems, decent jobs, fair wages, affordable housing, small business ownership, and homeownership.
Immigrants are an asset to California’s economy.
I am honored to be serving in policy and addressing these economic social issues that affect many families. I will continue to serve with deep passion and faith that together, we can shape a better collective future.